URI names Richmond interim dean of University College
KINGSTON, R.I.-- October 8, 1998 --Take 2,200 freshmen just out of high
school and unfamiliar with campus life, add about 1,700 sophomores and toss
in a few juniors who are trying to make a decision on a major. What have
You have the main ingredients of Dr. Jayne Richmond's new job as interim
dean of URI's University College and Special Academic Programs. The focus
of University College is to help students make the transition to URI and
to lay the groundwork for their academic success here.
What's the typical freshman at URI like today? "They're brighter,
scoring higher on SATs. They come with very high expectations. Grade inflation
in high school is fairly commonplace. Students expect to do well although
they are studying less than students in the past, and they are working
more hours at jobs both on and off campus," says the new interim dean.
"Then they hit the reality wall and the demands of college level work."
One way to ease the transition from high school is the mandatory freshman
seminar, URI 101: Traditions and Transformation. Composed of no more than
25 freshmen, the classes are designed to help the new students get to know
each other while familiarizing themselves to University resources such as
the library and computer centers, and to learn how to support their academic
experiences with co-academic involvement and opportunities like international
study and internships. All classes have a community service component supported
by the Feinstein Enriching America Program.
The challenge, then, for Richmond is to coordinate 85 instructors, more
than 100 upperclass mentors, and find community service opportunities for
the 2,200 freshmen.
No small task, but one that Richmond and University College's competent
staff can handle, considering that they traditionally handle more than 13,000
student advising appointments annually.
Richmond, a Wakefield resident, loves the challenge. Friendly
and energetic, the new interim dean came to URI from Kansas State University
in 1986 as an associate professor of Human Development and Family Studies
and has been the University College's assistant dean for the past five years.
Richmond oversees orientation, academic advising, and academic support
There's a lot of advising. "Almost 40 percent of our students are
undecided about a major," says Richmond. "Of the remaining 60
percent, about half of them change their minds sometime during their academic
The College also provides support services for student-athletes, transferring
students, as well as exiting students. The College sponsors Phi Eta Sigma,
the freshmen honors society, University College Scholars, and help for students
in danger of failing. The College also sends out mid-term reports.
"University College is home for our new students," says the
interim dean. "It's the one central place where freshmen can get most
of their needs met. We try to help our students better understand the commitments
they must make."
Richmond says getting a complete profile of students is key to the College's
effective support. Working with URI's Office of Institutional Research and
conducting surveys, Richmond continually seeks answers to the questions:
Who are our students? What helps them be successful?
Giving students on-line information is another priority this year. University
College has a Web Page where all the 101 class material and information
will be posted. Richmond hopes to add academic advisors' information, photos,
and e-mail addresses on the page, as well as forms that students need.
Another priority is curricular innovation. Integrating leadership, community
service, and experiential learning into pilot courses, as well as freshmen
"learning communities" offered by teams of faculty members, could
be eventually be incorporated into the University's general education program.
Richmond is taking over the reigns for Dean Diane Strommer who is on
leave to help establish a new women's university in the United Arab Emirates.
For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 874-2116